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Roasting Coffee: Not Burning Down the House

Coffee is a significant part of my routine. It’s my a.m. beverage of choice. In the afternoon I transition to water. And most typically, further transition to wine in the evening. Both coffee and wine are subject areas with considerable depth.

My interest in wine is by now well known. I pursued that with some formal classes and certification about the same time I started working with ZipDX. There’s only so far to go down that path. It gets expensive and requires the sort of commitment that comes from working in that industry. These days I remain a well informed consumer, but not as driven to explore the depths of the world of wine.

Instead, I’ve started to explore coffee. We’re fortunate that much of the coffee entering the US does so via the Port of Houston, making this a great place to be a coffee drinker. The House of Coffee Beans is our regular source. Stella gets me a selection of their coffees every year for Christmas.

 

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Tech we have deployed for Halloween

It started back in 2002. My wife brought home a large inflatable spider, something new for the exterior decor at Halloween. I struggled to find a way of using it that seemed appropriate.

In the end, I decided to give it context by building suitably large, lit spider web in the font yard. It spanned the gap between the house and a very tall Loblolly pine in the corner of the yard.

The children came in droves, and were filled with awe. They left with candy, and it was good.

Every year we try something new. We occasionally drop something that didn’t work quite as well as we hoped. This year I’d like to highlight a few things we’ve used that work very well.

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Halloween on the 3300 Block of Beauchamp

Since 2002, we’ve put a vast effort into Halloween. It started one day when Stella came home with an 8-foot, purple, inflatable spider. I could not just plop this guy down in the yard. That lacked context. So, I dyed some sisal rope and built him a home, in the form of a 20 foot tall, illuminated spider web. A nice backdrop against which to give out candy to the kiddos.

Every year we’d tweak the presentation a bit. We added fog machines and lights. More fog machines. More lights. Better fog machines. Still more lights.

We added music! Loud, but not too loud. Enough skeletons to have our own baseball team. Bigger, badder fog machines with built-in dry ice chambers!

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The Sound of Silence

For the past couple of days my office has been blissfully, almost eerily silent. Silent like I’ve not heard in several years. It’s enough to make me want some kind of background sounds, which is something that I’ve never wanted previously.

This newfound silence has been brought about by a combination of things. It cool enough outside that the door is closed. The mighty Fujitsu Halycon air conditioner is taking a much needed break. Today, it’s not so cool that I need a heater.

Most significantly, I’ve turned off the 24-port Netgear switch that serves as our network core. The other day I swapped an older 10/100 switch into service so I could clean out the old Netgear unit. Racked and untouched for along while, it was terribly dusty inside & out.

Netgear GS524T

This old Netgear GS524T has two built-in 40mm fans. They’ve been making noise forever. It’s been getting steadily worse. The 10/00 switch that I have as backup is fanless, so the familiar whine of the wee fans has been silenced for now.

In fact, according to my Netatmo Weather Station the ambient noise level in my home office is around 36 dba. That’s pretty quiet.

2019-12-10 15.11.05

Just now, staring at the approaching holidays, I don’t really want to spend on a new & much better switch, so I think I will replace the fans in the old one. It’s a $20-30 project. I’m told that folks do this routinely in the case of Ubiquiti switches. They replace the noisy stock fans with quieter fans from Noctua.

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A Story About Keeping The Wine Cool

wine coolerA few years ago my wife gave me a lovely Kenmore Elite wine cooler as a gift. This appliance lives in our kitchen, doing exactly what you’d expect. That is, until last month. Last month the cooler temperature went down to near freezing and could not be adjusted. Thirty-six degrees Fahrenheit is much too cold for wine.

Since it’s a Kenmore appliance I called the Sears appliance repair service to come service the gadget. The technician arrived and diagnosed the issue based solely upon my description of the problem. He said that controller board was faulty and should be replaced. It seemed a sensible diagnosis.

He then quoted me $130 for the part and $275 in labor to install it. With taxes, the repair was going to cost around $450. That’s not much less than the cost of a comparable, brand new wine cooler. A new cooler would have a warranty.

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